- AD Blog
- Contact Us
Winter 2007 Magazine: The Nation of Israel and the Temple of God Part I
Publish date: Aug 7, 2009
|Share with others:||
Two particular teachings can be found at the very core of Christian prophetic interpretation today–the reestablishment of the nation of Israel and the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. Lately, Bible scholars have begun questioning if evidence to support these teachings can, indeed, be found in the Scriptures. There seems to be a growing consensus among serious students of the Word that these conclusions are based on an incorrect methodology of prophetic interpretation. There are currently three primary schools of prophetic thought–preterism, futurism, and historicism.
In the 1600s, Jesuit Luis De Alcasar founded the preterist school of prophetic interpretation–he explained Revelation by the fall of Jerusalem or by the fall of pagan Rome in 410 AD.
Today, preterists take the major prophecies that historicists have always understood to point to the future, and place them in the past. Some extreme preterists say that the Second Coming of Christ occurred in 70 AD, and see Nero as the Antichrist. Partial preterists still believe in a future Second Coming of Christ. Preterism, as opposed to historicism and futurism, has always been in the minority.
In the 1500s, another Jesuit, Francisco Ribera, developed the futurist school of thought. He taught that the Antichrist would appear somewhere near the end of the Christian dispensation and would appear in a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem–shortly before the return of the Messiah.
Modern futurists take Revelation 4-22 and place it in the future. They also take the last week of the 70-week prophecy of Daniel 9 and place it in the future, after the secret rapture of God's people, but before the seven-year tribulation. They teach that the Antichrist will be an individual, Satan, who will arise during the tribulation period, persecute the Jews, put an end to temple sacrifice in the rebuilt temple, and lead the world into a false system of worship, imposing upon them the mark of the Beast. Jesus will appear at the end of these seven years and will then rescue the world, putting an end to evil and ushering in the millennium of peace.
Some well known futurists
Dr. Samuel Roffey Maitland (1700s) discovered the teachings of Ribera and published his theology in his own books.
James H. Todd, professor of Hebrew at the University of Dublin.
John Henry Newman (1800s), an Anglican and leader of the Oxford movement eventually became a Catholic.
Edward Irving (1700s), pastored the Presbyterian Chalcedonian Chapel in London and was the cofounder of the Society for the Investigation of prophecy.
John Nelson Darby (1800s), a lawyer, pastor, and theologian, wrote more than 53 books on Bible subjects. He became one of the leaders of the English group the "Plymouth Brethren." He was one of the major contributors to Evangelical theology and has been called the father of Modern Dispensationalism.
More recently, in the 1970s, Hal Lindsey published his best selling book The Late Great Planet Earth which presented the futurist perspective on end-time prophecy.
Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins (1990s–present) are among the leading proponents of futurist theology and have popularised this theology, globally, in their Left Behind books and movies. All their works have been blockbuster successes.
The oldest school of thought, historicism, teaches straight-forward, chronological progression. The major prophecies of Daniel and Revelation find fulfillment throughout history–from before Christ, through the Christian era, and pointing forward to and finally climaxing at the Second Coming of Jesus. Historicists also place special emphasis on the ongoing struggle between Christ and Satan within the Christian faith.
The historicist approach was practiced by Jewish Old Testament expositors before the time of Christ and they were able to accurately point out the rise of the Grecian empire and Alexander the Great through their study of Daniel 8. Likewise, the magi, in their study of Daniel and other Old Testament prophecies (applying the day year principle of prophetic time), were able to predict the time of the Messiah’s coming to this world.
Futurists almost entirely leap over the last 2000 years of Christian history–from pagan Rome’s demise, the great apostasy, establishment of the Islamic faith (the prophet Mohammed), the rise and rule of the papal system, the Dark Ages, the Inquisition and the protestant Reformation. On the other hand, historicists argue that it seems almost inconceivable that the most momentous eras of Christian and secular history (nearly 2000 years) have gone by practically unnoticed and unmentioned in Biblical prophecy. All previous eras until the time of Christ were chronologically foretold and fulfilled. Suddenly, an almost 2000 year gap is inserted, and, everything that would have been calculated according to the accurately applied day-year principle of prophetic time has been lumped into a fractional time-frame at world’s end. The majority of these events are supposed to find their fulfillment just prior to or during the seven-year tribulation period between the secret rapture and the glorious return of Christ.
Throughout the Christian era (particularly among Protestants), the historicist method has always been used. The only exception being the last 150-200 years where the methodology has become divided between the historicist and futurist views (preterisits making up a small fraction).
Some of the most well known historicists have been John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, John Wesley, Sir Isaac Newton, John Calvin (some of histories greatest students of Scripture and leaders of the Reformation), John Bunyan, Charles Spurgeon, Richard Baxter, Edward Bishop Elliott, Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones, and Richard Bennett.
It is important, before we embark on our study, that we understand the context in which the teachings of a reestablished nation of Israel and a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem are couched. Clearly, from what has already been stated, these doctrines form a vital part of futurist thought. It is believed that the nation of Israel, in a literal sense, through the blood-line of Abraham, are still God’s chosen people. They will, during the seven year tribulation, after the rapture of faithful Christians, play a vital role in final events and will return to the Lord once again. Part of this process will involve the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem and the reintroduction of the sacrificial system to be terminated by the Antichrist (Satan) when, in the middle of the seven years of tribulation (Daniel 9:27), he sets himself up as God and sits in the temple of God (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4). They will then realize their error in rejecting the Messiah will accept Him and become a major part and great witness to prepare other people for Christ when He returns with His people at the end of the tribulation period.
A study into the full ramifications of the modern secret rapture doctrine and all its connected teaching could fill an entire book. But, in the study we will conduct here, we will at least be able to take a critical look at what the Word of God reveals concerning these two major issues under question.
One of the major flaws in the nation of Israel doctrine is the literalizing of that which is, in a primary sense, meant to be spiritual. Two thousand years ago, when the Christ came to this world, the Jews were expecting a Messiah who would free them from the Romans and reestablish the kingdom of Israel. After the death of Christ, on the third day, the disciples were lamenting their loss.
But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done (Luke 24:21).
In Acts 1:6, just before Christ’s ascension, the disciples asked if Christ would free them from Rome:
When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom of Israel?
The issue is little different today. This time, the vast majority of the evangelical Christian world is looking for the literal restoration of the nation of Israel.
In order to understand the whole concept of the nation of Israel, we must go back to the origins of the name and the primary role that Israel was to play in furthering the cause of God in this world. It all began with God’s promise to Abraham and the name He gave to Jacob, which would finally become the name for the whole nation chosen of God.
And [the Lord] said Let me go, for the day breaketh. And [Jacob] said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed (Genesis 32:26-28).
The victory referred to in the above text was not a physical victory over God–this would be impossible. The name Israel was given to Jacob to signify his spiritual victory over his past life of deception. In this sense, he prevailed with God. It signified his spiritual birth as a new man, a prince of God. The name Jacob means "deceiver" or "crook." The name Israel means "prince of God."
Israel Prefigured Christ
The nation of Israel was called to be a spiritual people. Their primary purpose for existence was to keep the truth about God alive and to prepare the way for the Messiah that was to come. The nation of Israel, in their existence as a nation, in the religious system they practiced, and in their very name, prefigured the Messiah, Jesus Christ. In Him, the nation of Israel, a spiritual nation, found its complete fulfillment. Their dispensation looked forward to this fulfillment in Christ and now, in the Christian dispensation and under the new covenant (really a ratification of the original), we look back to the fulfillment of our spiritual calling in the person of Jesus Christ.
And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn (Exodus 4:22-23).
Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and
planted it (Psalm
But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend (Isaiah 41:8).
For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me (Isaiah 45:4).
When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt (Hosea 11:1).
And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son (Matthew 2:13-15).
This was the fulfillment of the prophecy made in Hosea 11:1. This event in the life of Christ was prefigured in the experience of the Nation Israel and now fulfilled in Christ. Some incredible examples of this can be found throughout the Gospel of Matthew and in the other Gospels too:
Deuteronomy – At the end of the 40 years, Moses writes the book of Deuteronomy.
Matthew 4:1-11 – After 40 days in the wilderness, Jesus is tempted and resists Satan, quoting three Scriptures from Deuteronomy.
Christ and His Church are Israel's Fulfillment
In the Old Testament, the name Israel is applied to one man signifying his victory over sin. In the New Testament Jesus becomes the one man who overcame all sin. In Matthew 12:16-19 Jesus quotes Isaiah 42:1-3 and applies it to himself. Exodus 4:22 speaks about the nation Israel as God’s firstborn. In Colossians Paul speaks of Christ the Firstborn. Isaiah 41:8 calls Israel the "seed of Abraham." Galatians 3:16 says, "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ."
The calling of ancient Israel is fulfilled in Christ. The Christian Church, God’s new nation, continues to fulfill that spiritual calling of Israel the nation as it looks back to its confirmation in the birth, life, work, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, and in its recognition of the present ministry of Christ as our High Priest and King.
To be continued.
Is there evidence for Creation science? How does it compare to evolution? The following articles give insight in to these questions and more.
Can we understand the age of the earth by the rocks? What theory does the evidence support?
What does the fossil record show us? Is it all random or a defined science that we can understand? Where does evolution fit? Uncover mysteries in the history of the Earth.
As we study the genome, the molecule, and the atom, we see a vast network of intricate systems beyond our understanding. Were these systems really formed by chance?
How did this world change from the perfection depicted in Genesis to a world full of thorns, thistles, parasites, and death? If God made everything perfect, how could it have all been so changed?
Archaeology and prophecy have proven the Bible to be true. But what's so special about the Bible that makes it a point of so much controversy?
Music is a powerful emotional motivator that crosses cultural and language barriers. Its message can be understood by every culture and people across the planet.
What is the system of worship found most often in our society? Does it glorify God?
Research has shown that our sensitivity to stimuli reduces itself yearly by about 1%. Is your brain hibernating?
Beware of the television's abilities to hypnotize, alter moods, and even cause depression.
Like music and movies, video games are addictive and can cause behavioral problems.
What is the origin behind this popular festival celebrated every October 31?
Read proof that throughout the Roman Church's history, the Papacy has often claimed that the Pope is divine.
This book "Cross and Crown" is a powerful and thrilling recital of the most romantic and dramatic incidents in history to be found on record, told in the simplest, most graphic, and entertaining form.
The historian Ranke says this about Protestant-Catholic relations: "In the year 1617, everything betokened a decisive conflict between them. The Catholic party appears to have felt itself the superior. At all events it was the first to take up arms."
This article highlights quotes from historical and Catholic sources proving the Papacy's aggressive nature.
This article highlights quotes from historical and Catholic sources proving the Papacy's aggressive nature.
Dive into history to uncover the remarkable stories of faith and passion in early Protestantism.
Language can be used to communicate both truth and lies. Learn about the religious doublespeak being used to pull the wool over the eyes of the world.
Hegelian dialectic thinking is applied in many situations in world politics. Often the ordinary people are used as pawns in the game of Hegelian psychology played by those who pull the strings of world control.
Read this classic work by Ellen G. White.
How will Christ return, and what will it mean for His people?
What are the trends in the religious world today? Sun Worship, The UN and the One World Religion, Eastern Mysticism and Spiritism... Just what do all these things mean in light of Bible prophecy?
Most people can understand the reasoning behind nine of the Ten Commandments—don't kill, don't lie, don't steal. But what about the Sabbath Commandment? Why would God give such a law? Why should we follow it?
How will Christ return, and what will it mean for His people?
Can the Bible be trusted to provide answers to our questions? Does it contain truth? Learn about the evidence that proves the Bible's authenticity.
Is Jesus really who He says He is?
Consider the crucial points of the Christian life.
Is there more to death than the fact that it is the opposite of life? What are the false doctrines involving the immortality of the soul?
Excitotoxins cause physical and spiritual destruction. Learn about the main types of exitotoxins and what can be done to avoid them.
Reports show that red wine may be beneficial to heart health. Is that a good enough reason to start drinking alcohol?
Get the truth about lactose, calcium, and the need for caution around dairy products.
Today's meat and dairy industries are focused on profit rather than health.
The agriculture industry is fast becoming reliant on genetically modified foods. Learn the facts about GMOs and the effects this trend is having on health worldwide.
Most of the bread products consumed today are made of refined grains. Are our breakfast cereals and "fortified" loaves as healthy as we like to think?
Do the stimulating benefits of coffee really outweigh the costs?
Refined sugar is addictive, destructive, and devoid of any nutritional value. Why does it continue to be a staple food across the world?
Smoking leads to massive amounts of sickness and death every year. Can you beat the nicotine?
From mammograms to prescription drugs, the modern medical industry is always presenting a new way to diagnose and solve health issues. But are these new treatments really healing anything?
There isn't one person I have ever met who knew anything about cosmetics, and that is because the chemistry of cosmetics has always been cloaked in secrecy.
Find practical ideas for dealing with depression in these articles about symptoms and treatments.
We are surrounded by unhealthy foods, unwise practices, and even harmful medical advice. Learn how to overcome these obstacles and choose a healthy lifestyle.
These graphs and tables can help you jumpstart your health routine.